Background: Patients with advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma have a poor response, progression-free survival, and overall survival with standard treatment. We aimed to assess whether a four-drug regimen could improve 4 month progression-free survival compared with gemcitabine alone.
Methods: In a randomised multicentre phase III trial, 52 patients were randomly assigned to 40 mg/m2 cisplatin and 40 mg/m2 epirubicin both given on day 1, 600 mg/m2 gemcitabine given intravenously over 1 h on days 1 and 8, and 200 mg/m2 fluorouracil a day given by continuous infusion on days 1-28 of a 4-week cycle (PEFG regimen), and 47 were assigned to 1000 mg/m2 gemcitabine given intravenously over 30 min once a week for 7 of 8 consecutive weeks in cycle 1 and for 3 of 4 weeks thereafter. The primary endpoint was 4-month progression-free survival. Secondary endpoints were overall survival, objective response, safety, and quality of life. Analyses were by intention to treat.
Findings: 51 patients assigned PEFG and 46 assigned gemcitabine alone had disease progression. 49 patients in the PEFG group and 46 in the gemcitabine group died from progressive disease. More patients allocated PEFG than gemcitabine alone were alive without progressive disease at 4 months (60% [95% CI 46-72] vs 28% [17-42]; hazard ratio [HR] 0.46 [0.26-0.79]). 1-year overall survival in the PEFG group was 38.5% (25.3-51.7) and in the gemcitabine group was 21.3% (9.6-33.0; HR 0.68 [0.42-1.09]). More patients assigned PEFG showed disease response than did those assigned gemcitabine (38.5% [25.3-51.7] vs 8.5% [0.5-16.5]; odds ratio 6.60 [2.11-20.60], p=0.0008). More patients in the PEFG group had grade 3-4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia than in the gemcitabine group (p<0.0001).
Interpretation: The PEFG regimen could be considered for treatment of advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma.